Monday, 9 March 2009

Inking My Comic!

Over on my T&P blog I did a post about inking...it was heavily related to this project because it was the idea of doing this comic that inspired me to learn about this important part of the animation process. Inking comics is slightly different (Depending on the style) but because I am an animator I thought I would apply what I head learned about animation inking into a comic style. This has created a very interesting stylisation that I think has a good look about it.

For a short while I really struggled trying to ink my stuff in Flash, but Flash wasn't made as a tool for inking...so I started poking around and looking at what proffessionals were using. Illustrator seemed like the most popular choice amongst the industry people. I wasn't particularly surprised that they were using a vector based program, it helps to easy gain that 'cartoon' look , but it is a tool that I knew only a little about.

I jumped in at the deep end and just got going. Did a few experiments and started to work and learn the tools. I created my own brush, read a ton of blogs and 'how-to's' and then just set off. I wish I knew enough about it to do the whole comic in Illustrator, but I don't. One good thing is that CS3 supports Illustrator > Flash integration, so getting my drawings into Flash is nice and easy (If frustratingly pointless). I am so impressed with the tools in Illustrator however that I am definitely going to continue working with this program and learn it to its maximum potential. I am even hoping to use to to line my future cartoons so as to get the lines that I want, rather than the wiggly horrid lines that Flash gives me.

Anyway, here a few pictures of how I am using the tool to create my comic book.

I begin by directly tracing any of the drawings that I am going to use for the comic. I alter the settings on my tablet to alter how well the tip responds. Softer for thicker lines, firmer for thinner lines. I then divide the drawings up into three distinct sections. The thick silhouette lines, the medium 'telling' lines (The lines that convey the message of the drawings) and the the lesser lines, which are the thinnest. This way the image is very clear to read and the eye can easily tell what is happening. These however are not strict rules and do not suit every image.

This example was drawing directly into flash. The red arrows point to all the sharp wiggly lines that get left behind by the brush tool. These are really difficult to control and take a lot of time to get rid of because the tools for editing mistakes or altering brush strokes just don't exist in Flash.

The red arrows here again point out all the blemishes that have to be removed by just using an eraser. Each page was taking me nearly 2 hours to draw, then clean up in Flash. I decided I needed a better tool that would help me speed up the process, after all time is scarce.

Illustrators drawing tools are very sophisticated. After each line the anchors for the lines pop-up, immediately allowing you to alter line shapes on the fly. By holding down the alt-key you get the option to smooth out any blemishes on the spot, meaning the process is incredibly quick and easy.

My other favourite thing about Illustrator is the way that each brush stroke becomes a separate object. You can do something similar in Flash, but the lines are immediately turned into objects that cannot be adjusted, they become static. In Illustrator each line can be selected and altered just by clicking on it. You can change the shape, size and a whole bunch more right there and then without having to re-draw the line or erase any spikes on the lines.

Illustrator has quite literally shortened the my work time to three quarters of the time it was taking me in Flash. Once I learn more about the tool and more about its direct integration to other programs, I am sure this will become one of my favourite programs.

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